What Can I Do with an Early Childhood Education Degree?

Let’s face it: All of us are looking for more than just a job. We’re looking for careers that align with our interests and passions to fulfill us on a daily basis.

In your particular case, you love children and you want a career that helps give them the best possible start in life. But it begins with schooling and that means earning an early childhood education degree.early-childhood-education-degree

Job titles in ECE may vary anywhere from assistant teacher to infant lead teacher and preschool teacher to childcare teacher, but ultimately, their goal is the same. Early childhood education (ECE) is about teaching kids 0-8 years old the academic, cognitive and social development skills they need to thrive early in life.

“If you are planning to teach, having a degree in ECE is great … even essential,” says Stacy Erickson, child development specialist in Seattle, Wash. Erickson credits her ECE degree for the career she’s built as a Montessori assistant, infant teacher and child center director.  

So, what can I do with an early childhood education degree?

Well, we caught up with a special needs teacher and an English language learning (ELL) professional to get their feedback on the most rewarding aspects of their jobs. Here is what they had to say.

ECE provides an opportunity to work with children with special needs

Special needs teachers work with students who have learning, psychological or physical disabilities. Teachers in this field typically work with several students and determine the needs and strategies that will lead to the successful development of each individual child.   

“It’s extremely valuable for special needs early educators to be properly trained and a vast amount of knowledge, not only about atypical development but strategies they can use,” says Joni Kuhn, developmental education instructor at Rasmussen College. “The more tips and tricks you know, the more effective you’ll be.”

But the best special needs teachers work with families and students. Constantly communicating with parents is incredibly important to determine the strategies that will help and build a fruitful parent-teacher relationship.

Communicating to parents that their child’s best interest is your primary concern is where it starts. The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) offers five more secrets to loving your job as a special education teacher.

And if you’re wondering about the career outlook of special education teachers, there are currently 3.9 million public and private special education teachers. That number is expected to grow 20-28 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

ECE can also be a cross-cultural experience

ELL teachers are professionals that work with students who predominantly speak a language other than English at home. Those who earn an ECE degree and specialize in ELL might find themselves teaching in a non-traditional classroom setting and using visual aids and hand signals to complete their lessons. 

ELL teachers might also serve as unofficial community ambassadors for some families.

“Teachers are often the only point of contact for people from certain sectors of society,” says Natalia Laczko, former ELL teacher from Brisbane, Australia. “[Some] families live in very remote places and the teacher is one of the only people they see.”

At present, between 20-25 percent of preschool children in the United States come from homes in which English is not the predominantly spoken language.

Department of Labor statistics show the number of ELL teachers is projected to grow by 10-19 percent through 2020. That number is also likely to increase as communities become more diverse over the next decade.   

The next steps

Well, there you have it. Those are the stories of two teachers who use their early childhood education degrees to serve children with specific needs. I think they would both agree that the path isn’t always an easy one, but then again, that’s not why ECE teachers do what they do. Rather, they used their education to meet a need in society, and in doing so, built remarkable careers.

Do you want your story to sound like theirs? It starts by checking out the ECE programs that align with your interests and make sense with your career aspirations.

And if you’re worried about finding a job in the field after school, don’t. The early childhood education field is expected to grow by 25 percent through 2020.

External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Kendall is an Online Community Specialist at Collegis Education who oversees online communities on behalf of Rasmussen College. She has a passion for social media and enjoys motivating and encouraging former, current and future learners.

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